The origin of rice has been debated for some time, but the plant is of such antiquity that the precise time and place of its first development will perhaps never be known. It is certain, however, that the domestication of rice ranks as one of the most important developments in history, for this grain has fed more people over a longer period of time than has any other crop.
Asia accounts for 90% of the world's production and consumption of rice because of its favorable hot and humid climate. Rice is grown in numerous tiny farms primarily to meet family needs. Hence, the marketable surplus is small and prices fluctuate widely with droughts, floods and typhoons. Maintaining self-sufficiency in production and stability in prices are important political objectives in most Asian countries.
In Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, rice provides 55-80% of total calories consumed. Notable exceptions are Egypt, Nigeria, and Pakistan, where rice contributes 5-10% of per capita daily caloric intake. China, India, and Indonesia account for three-fourths of the global rice consumption.
Less than 5% of world rice production is traded internationally. Major rice exporters are Thailand, the United States, Vietnam, Pakistan, and India while the major importers are Indonesia, Nigeria, Iran, Bangladesh and Brazil.
India is one of the primary rice cultivating countries. The rice harvesting area in India is the world's largest. Indian rice cultivation is found in all states with Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, U.P., Orissa and West Bengal the major rice producing states.
Rice is the staple food for 65% of the total population in India. It constitutes about 52% of the total foodgrain production and 55% of total cereal production. The average annual production in India has been approx 80-100 Million MT.
The Marketing Year for rice in India is from October to September. Food Corporation of India (FCI), the Government nodal agency responsible for the procurement of rice does the maximum procurement in India to maintain buffer stock and for various other Government sponsored schemes like Food for Work programme. Rice procurement during the marketing year MY 2003/04 was a record 22.4 million tons. Procurement during MY 2003/04 was largely from Punjab (8.7 MMT), Andhra Pradesh (4.1 MMT), Uttar Pradesh (2.6 MMT), Chattisgarh (2.3 MMT), Haryana (1.3 MMT), Orissa (1.2 MMT) and West Bengal (0.9 MMT).
PEC has been actively involved in the export of Non-Basmati Rice from India to various destinations in Middle East, Far East and Africa. PEC has exported approximately 2.5 Million MT of Rice to various destinations since the year 2002. FCI being the single largest holder of rice in India used to provide rice for export but with FCI out of the export scenario, PEC has been procuring rice from the domestic market. PEC has been active on Kandla, Mumbai, Vizag, Kakinada and Mundra ports. PEC ‘s main buyers include the major Multi- National trading companies and Government trading companies.